HC seeks details of pending cases before consumer forum

Direction came on plea by a man who had filed a case in 2007

After coming across an insurance claim case that remained undecided before a consumer forum here for over 14 years, the Delhi High Court, taking a strong view, has called for records of other similar cases pending before the forum and their status.

Justice Prathiba M. Singh also directed the District Consumer Dispute Redressal Forum (West), Janakpuri, Delhi, where the insurance claim case was pending, to decide it before December 20.

The court’s direction came while hearing a plea of a man who came aggrieved that the District Consumer Dispute Redressal Forum (West), Janakpuri, has, till date, not decided his consumer complaint, which was filed in 2007.

The man had lost his son, who was just 13 years of age, and had filed a consumer complaint seeking compensation against the Employees State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) and the Employees State Insurance Hospital. The father’s case was that there was medical negligence, which led to the demise of his young son.

Fast-track cases

“Such cases ought to be adjudicated expeditiously and with alacrity. This delay of 14 years has taken place despite the parties having concluded evidence within one year of the filing of the complaint, because the forum has not finally heard the matter and passed the final judgment. There can be no justification for such a long delay in finally hearing the matter,” Justice Singh said.

During the hearing, the lawyers representing both sides raised various grievances about the manner in which the forum is functioning, besides the issue of delay in this specific case.

They submitted that the consumer forum does not assemble on time and on several occasions, presiding officers do not hold court. They also submitted that on most occasions, proceedings are not held for the entire duration of the working hours.

Moreover, counsel of both sides informed the High Court that the vacancies in the consumer forum have now been filled and the requisite quorum is available for hearing the matters.

Cause for concern

Taking note of the submission made by the counsel, Justice Singh said the manner of functioning of the consumer forum was a “cause for consternation”.

The court called for a list of cases or complaints pending for final hearing from the forum, Janakpuri.

The High Court also asked about the status of vacancies of presiding officers, including chairperson and members of the consumer forum, and if there was any infrastructural requirements.

It will hear the case again on January 6 next year.

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